Audio vs Text Poll

Out of curiosity and because there is a diversity of practices at AUFS I have created a poll to see if our readers prefer audio or text of conference presentations. It is unlikely I’ll start posting texts of my conference presentations, partly because I prefer audio myself (seriously, does no one else ride the bus? or do dishes? or want something to listen to while riding their bike?) and because I don’t want my talks judged as papers. But, still curious.

Should using your real name be allowed?

[Stanley Fish has a column up that I assume includes typical hand-wringing about the place of anonymity on the internet — I haven’t actually read the article, because I find Stanley Fish’s writing in the Times to be really annoying. Nevertheless, I’m going to riff on the basic topic, citing Fish’s unread column only because it’s what brought this topic to mind.]

One often hears complaints about the use of anonymity on the internet, usually from people in the mainstream media who worry about people using anonymity irresponsibly, to say things they wouldn’t be willing to say in their own name. Abuse of anonymity, it is often assumed, is one of the things that make the internet such a toxic, uncivil place, and therefore allowing its use is highly questionable.

What I’d like to argue here is that allowing the use of real names in internet discourse is equally questionable if not moreso. Continue reading “Should using your real name be allowed?”

Two further academic syndromes

In the spirit of academic Stockholm syndrome, I propose that the following be recognized as afflictions of academics in the next version of the DSM:

  • Having All Day Syndrome: It will sometimes happen that one’s only obligation on a given day is a relatively small task or group of tasks that could easily be fulfilled in a short amount of time. Inevitably, the fact that the time available dramatically outweighs the time needed will lead one to put off the task all day, leading to a mad dash to finish in the late evening.
  • Article That Writes Itself Syndrome: One occasionally has an idea for a piece of writing that seems so inspired or so simple that it seems possible to begin writing immediately. Yet in reality, one needs to do some kind of legwork (reviewing sources, etc.) before one can really begin. The end result is that one neither writes nor does the legwork, instead opting to sit and stare at a blank page and/or engage in worthless procrastination, berating oneself for not writing.


This is a part of a series of online cartoons, some related to religion, others not. Regardless of the topic, this one seems the best. The final bit is not as funny as the middle bit, but I appreciate how it switches the tone from snark to something more interestingly rueful.

AUFS’s failure of branding

In the comments to Mikhail’s send-up of SpecReal/OOP/OOO, I came across this very compelling post by Kvond that characterizes SpecReal/OOP/OOO as a kind of philosophical “speculative bubble.” Not being very conversant with Graham Harman’s work or the details of Levi Bryant’s “onticology,” I can’t vouch for the accuracy of Kvond’s analysis — but it does seem like his description of “philosophy as Ponzi scheme” is something that could actually happen:

These packaging movements [of OOO] meet squarely it seems with Harman’s own Great Idea concept of philosophical significance, the thinking that all the Great Philosophers were really exaggerators that some how fooled the public long enough to get their ideas off the ground. Once enough people “buy into” the intial debt of explanation it is passed off onto the whole group, the bad mortgage is cut into tiny Madoff pieces and distributed everywhere. Philosophy as Ponzi scheme.

This brings me to the point of this post: how can AUFS brand itself so as to reap the benefits of such dynamics? So far, we don’t have the workings of a coherent brand: we’re ecologically-minded quasi-internal critics of the Christian tradition who also read novels? Half the time we don’t even approve of our own ideas, much less advocate others join in the fun!

Obviously we need to streamline here, so what’s our Big Idea? (And no, “being rude to commenters” isn’t enough.) We can collaborate on the explanation later — right now, we just need something that can really reach out to MA students and the underemployed, because they’re at the forefront of blogging. Then we can work on how we divide out the labor of “declaiming from on high” and “responding to everyone who writes about [insert brand] ideas in 1000-plus-word blog posts.” I’d like to think I would get the former job, but my relatively hyper-active blogging would likely saddle me with the latter — Brad would probably thrive best in the declaiming department. Seriously, though, we can hash that out later. We just need a Big Idea, fast.